Originally Posted by Farmer John
I'm curious about needs and wants. You mention that some things seem important as features you must have and others that don't seem critical really are. What are some of those things?
Having thought about this a little more, I always wanted an Airstream B190 B-van.
I found one several years ago in St. Louis with 45k miles on it. It had the rear bath with the shower on the driver's side and toilet in the middle of the back doors. It had an over-cab bed, and didn't have a genset. I thought it was perfect. And then I started using it. I found that I carry 'stuff' like my two Cavalier King Charles spaniels in a crate, and a fair amount of tools because I use my van to stay in when I work on one of my apartment buildings. And then I carry supplies sometimes as well.
I couldn't use the air conditioning unless I was plugged in somewhere, and sometimes I'm not. That led to some pretty miserable sleeping because I didn't have a generator. I also use the microwave quite a lot and without the genset, I was stuck using the stove. The overhead cab bed was essentially a waste because I'm too tall to fit in it (or really even turn over comfortably.) Then, while the bath/shower is a lovely idea, it's too small to use unless you're 5' tall or shorter. I couldn't even sit in the tub; it wasn't big enough. And then the middle-of-the-doors toilet didn't allow for anything to be loaded from the rear of the coach. The tub was too fragile to carry tools in, and too odd-shaped for anything square (like Rubbermaid tubs) to be carried there either. The B190 was on the e350 chassis and had a huge, wide raised fiberglass top that afforded lots of storage, but made the coach so top heavy that it wallowed. It also had the 460 V8 gas-guzzler in it that got 8mpg.
It didn't take me too many months to recognize that in aggregate, the B190, while beautiful and well-built, just wasn't the van I needed for MY set of circumstances. Fortunately, I was into it reasonably enough that I made money on it when I sold it.
The van I have now has a MUCH better floorpan for my particular needs. As a matter of fact, I've not found another (of ANY vintage) that would work better for me, so I'm taking good care of this one so I can keep it around as long as I can. I load a LOT of stuff into the rear dinette area. I've taken the cushions out and stored them, and use the "bed" back there as a trunk for my construction needs, luggage and the dogs. The over-cab area in this coach is solely storage, and I sleep on the couch. It's a little short for me, but works just fine. It's on the e250 chassis and has a smaller raised top. It's a 351W and averages around 13 mpg. I put an HD anti-sway bar on it, and eliminated the wallowing because the top is so much lighter than the B190's was. But here again there are trade-offs... the Coachmen doesn't have nearly the storage that the Airstream had.
And my wife and I do not travel together in the B-van. I use the b-van as a solo moho. When we travel together, we take the Born Free and tow the Jeep as the B-van just isn't comfortable for us to occupy together. Other couples have no issues at all in a B-van.
So... you can see where the 'personal' part of buying and using a b-van comes in... and why I said that after you buy one and use it for a while you'll have a MUCH better idea of what you really need vs. what you thought you wanted. The attachment to this post shows the floorplan of my current '95 Coachmen 19RD.